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Las Vegas Sands (NYSE: LVS ) has opened its latest expansion on the Cotai Strip, but don't expect it to add significantly to earnings quite yet: The company can't add more table games until 2013.
Two hundred table games have been moved in from The Venetian Macau across the street and Sands Macau on the Macau Peninsula, which will have a negative impact on these resorts in the short-term. Next year we can expect a greater impact.
The latest phase of Sands Cotai Central is helping push Las Vegas Sands more into the mass market, a section of the market that is still growing. Last month I highlighted the VIP market as a huge weakness in Macau last quarter, while the mass market was relatively flat. Long-term, a focus on mass-market customers will help hotel room prices and nongaming revenue, and provide a more stable form of gaming revenue than the volatile VIP market, which also comes with expensive incentives for players.
The next step in Macau
Adelson also announced the next resort in Macau, formerly known as Parcel 3. The $2.5 billion to $3.0 billion resort will be called The Parisian and it will be financed with $1.5 billion in debt and about $1 billion in cash. It will come with 3,000 hotel rooms and a 50%-scale replica of the Eiffel Tower. If that sounds familiar, it's because it's the same scale as the Paris Resort's Eiffel Tower in Las Vegas, which is owned by Caesars Entertainment (Nasdaq: CZR ) . But no matter, the copycat design won't likely be a big deal for millions of Chinese residents who haven't been to Las Vegas.
This resort will be built along with Wynn Resorts' (Nasdaq: WYNN ) new resort on Cotai and will likely be followed by resorts from Melco Crown (Nasdaq: MPEL ) , MGM Resorts (NYSE: MGM ) , and SJM on Cotai. When those three resorts will be approved is currently unknown.
Las Vegas Sands' new resort will give it a stranglehold on Cotai and prime locations in the center of the action. This should continue to bring consumers to Cotai and will likely continue the expansion of mass-market play and nongaming revenue as hotel rooms, restaurants, shopping, and other entertainment venues are added.
Moving to Spain
Las Vegas Sands has also finalized Madrid as the preferred location for its $20 billion multiple resort vision in Spain. This expansion is Adelson's next grand vision for gaming and would include around 36,000 hotel rooms, six casinos, and three golf courses. This would be similar to the bet Adelson made on Macau, which is now more than four times larger than Las Vegas in gaming revenue.
Foolish bottom line
The challenge for Las Vegas Sands going forward is finding ways to grow its $10 billion in revenue and expand its $37 billion market cap. The Macau market has slowed considerably and will likely only grow in the low double digits this year. If this low level of growth continues, it will negate some of the positive effect of the new resorts -- if the pie doesn't grow overall.
In Spain, the issues are even tougher. The country's unemployment rate is 25% and over half of those under 25 are unemployed. The country sees Las Vegas Sands' investment as private stimulus and will likely give significant benefits to the company, but the payoff is hardly known at this point. Yet even with those unknowns, Las Vegas Sands is still ahead of most of the competition.
Las Vegas Sands is still among the top stocks in gaming, far ahead of U.S.-centric companies like MGM and Caesars. The company needs to show that its enviable position in Cotai is taking a disproportionate amount of gaming share and that it is able to keep consumers in its hotels instead of them going to Galaxy or City of Dreams, which took business from The Venetian last quarter after Sands Cotai Central was opened.
Keep up to date on Las Vegas Sands and all that's going on in gaming with our premium report on the stock. As the company is looking to spread its empire further, will it be able to replicate its prior successes? Learn more about these opportunities, and the risks they pose, in this new report. To find out more, click here.